Ford Falcon XY
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3
The XY marked the apogee of the second generation Falcons, superior in performance to its competitors, better built, fitted with a range of locally designed six cylinder engines, and in GT form, producing the ultimate and fastest Falcon of them all. Popular with police forces, rental companies and the public at large, the XY featured a new plastic grille split in the centre and revised tail lamps.
The 250ci six was now almost as big as previous V8's, and all engine and transmission
combinations afforded class leading performance. For those lusting after a GT, but without enough cash, Ford introduced the GS (Grand Sport) Pack, available in Falcon 500, Futura and Fairmont models.
The improvments included the all important bucket seats, floor console, T-bar automatic or 4 speed manual, power steering, air-conditioning
, power operated windows, ventilated disc brakes, the 302 5.0 litre V8, a tinted laminated windscreen, vinyl roof and low-profile radial tyres. Perhaps the strangest iteration of time goes to the XY 4x4 utility. While not a great success, it does show the forsight of the Ford engineers to envisage the popularity of a 4 wheel drive combined with sedan like handling
characteristics and levels of comfort.
Unfortunately though the 250ci engine used in the 4x4 proved less than economical, and the ride from the all leaf-spring suspension
was downright uncomfortable. Having to stop the vehicle and engage four wheel drive from the front hubs was also a problem, although only a minor discomfort compared to that being delivered to the hip pocket and backside.
Across the entire range, improvements were made to the seating, safety equipment and steps were taken to provide a smoother, quieter ride. But of course the houours (and the reason the XY is best remembered so fondly today) goes to the 351ci (5.7 litre) engine. While similar in capacity to that fitted to the previous model, the 351 fitted to the XY was a completely new engine design, more modern and efficient, and when locally produced, would power the Falcon through the next decade.
Falcon 500 250 2V
These days it is the GT Falcon
that hogs the limelight for the ‘70s Falcon aficionados, and while understandable, it is a shame that many very good iterations seem to have been nearly forgotten about. One such variation was the humble XY Falcon 500 250 2V - well balanced when compared to the Holden’s and Valiant’s and offering pretty respectable performance for a car that filled the family sedan role. The XY Falcon was one of those cars which didn’t feel all that quick, mainly because it was so smooth and quiet, but this disguised what was actually very rapid performance.
Ford's then new 2V engine was designed to fill the gap between the base 250 six and the 302 V8. It did this so well that its performance, at least in combination with the four-speed gearbox, was better than you could achieve with the 302 coupled with automatic transmission
. And the way it went about its business the Falcon 500 was simple and enjoyable to drive. Ford's engineers raised the bhp from 155 to 170 at 4600 rpm and the torque from 240 ft/lb to 250 ft/lb at 2600 rpm by using a Bendix two-barrel carby instead of the single barrel unit and hence the title "2V". The Bendix carby was mounted on an all new alloy inlet manifold with long ram type tubes. A sports air cleaner added to the noise level of the engine. When the car was accelerating there was a deep throated roar, but it improved the engine efficiency and we doubt anyone really minded.
A full extractor exhaust
system may have seemed out of place on a Falcon 500, and it did look decidedly strange under the bonnet of an innocent Falcon six, but the exhaust
noise wasn’t all that much louder than with the normal 250. The breathing of the cylinder head
was improved by cleaning up the inlet and exhaust
ports. The result of these modifications was excellent straight-line acceleration coupled with a surprisingly high degree of torque.
Compared with the standard 250 the 2V's performance was hard to believe. When mated to the optional four-speed gearbox the 2V could do the standing quarter mile in 17 seconds dead, while the bog standard the 250 would take around 18.5 seconds. The improvement to 60 mph was even more impressive, being reduced from 14.0 seconds to a mere 10.7 seconds.
Passing speeds at low revs were much the same but in the mid-range the 2V came into its own. While the Ford 4 speed was an excellent box and fun to use, if you were feeling particularly lazy you could leave the 500 in top gear all the way down to 20 mph and pull away strongly. In fact, those that stuck with the standard three-speed box were just as impressed with the performance of the engine – and its better pulling power. Obviously the 250 2V’s competitors at the time were the 253 Holden V8
and the 245 and 265 Chrysler Hemi
sixes and, for $75 over the standard 250, it offered excellent bang for the buck.
The XY Falcon 500 could be optioned such that there was a big difference between it and the bog standard taxi specials. As well as the 2V engine, you could include disc brakes, bucket seats and the four-speed box. Then of course there was the GS pack which included cosmetic improvements, GT instruments and radial ply tyres. The smooth ride, lack of real body roll and slight understeer took the Falcon out of the also-ran class and made it a real drivers car. Only the low geared steering and the poor rear axle location over rough road detracted from the car's overall handing. The finish, inside and out, was class leading – and Ford definitely had the wood on Holden
in this regard.
The driving position was good, the controls were light and simple to use, and for the performance on tap it represented brilliant value. The only problem, more so then than now, was that the Falcon's styling was not as modern as the then new HQ Holden
or VH Valiant
. The styling of course was a revision of what had first been seen with the XR Falcon
– but that styling was good, and had stood the test of time.